With negotiations between Matchroom and Team Khan having reached an impasse, Amir Khan shocked the boxing world by replacing the highly anticipated UK super-fight against Kell Brook with a global super-fight against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
Khan’s announcement surprised everyone, including Brook’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, who just a few days earlier had said “I think it’s [Brook vs Khan] going to get made”.
However, while Brook vs. Khan is still a possibility for the future if the parties were so close to finalising a deal why did negotiations fail?
A number of interesting facts regarding the negotiations were brought to light when Eddie Hearn sat down with Kugan Cassius of iFLTV yesterday and expressed his frustration at failing to tie up the deal.
THE FINAL REQUEST
“We had a conversation on Friday or Saturday night with Al Haymon’s guys,” said Hearn. “They said that we had to pull out of the Bizier fight, which would have ultimately led in vacating the [IBF] belt to fight Amir, Kell is not vacating the belt“.
When Cassius asks why they wanted Brook to cancel the Bizier fight, Hearn responds “Neither fighter had boxed since May last year, and obviously Kell’s been out with an injury. So I said we want to fight on March 26th why don’t you [Amir] box on March the 19th and I don’t think Al [Haymon] wanted to put him out in a fight and I don’t think Amir wanted Kell to have an edge via, you know, tuning himself up for that fight”.
Such a request could be perceived by many as an attempt by Khan to throw a spanner in the works, as Kell would not merely give his belt up and Khan’s team knew that, however, was that their actual intention?
When Eddie Hearn spoke to iFLTV in December he said “If I ask for an exception [from the IBF], which probably wouldn’t be granted because of his [Brook’s] layoff we’d have to fight Bizier next in the summer. I’d rather get it done in February and then you can have the summer fight [between Khan and Brook]”.
Whether Hearn actually contacted the IBF in regards to this matter or if they received a request to delay the mandatory is unknown.
The IBF is seen as one the stricter governing bodies, but evidently, if Hearn wanted to make the Khan vs Brook fight, then he would have at least tried to get the IBF to give him some leeway in regards to Brook’s mandatory.
THE OTHER PPVs
With Frampton vs Quigg (a Sky PPV event) taking place in February and Anthony Joshua expected to fight on PPV in April, things become complicated. PPV dates, venues, and budgets all come in to play.
Also, Matchroom cannot afford to devalue the Joshua brand at this crucial stage in his career. Competing against another big PPV could be more trouble than it’s worth.
THE BUSINESS DECISION
So, the decision not to move Brook’s mandatory against Bizier wasn’t simply because the IBF was leaning on Matchroom, but also because from a business perspective, regardless of what Brook or Khan wanted, it did not make sense for Sky or Matchroom to delay the bout.
Even if the Bizier clash could have been rescheduled for later this year, then Brook vs Khan would still only have been possible as a PPV event in June.
If we rewind to August 2015, you may recall that Chaves vs Bizier was ordered by the IBF as a final eliminator to face Brook.
Hearn decided to offer Chaves a voluntary title shot, meaning Chaves could avoid the eliminator and the fans got to see Brook in a tough test. Chaves happily obliged and prepared to fight Brook, who unfortunately got injured in sparring shortly before the bout and withdrew from the contest.
With Brook injured and Chaves having forfeited his chance to fight for a place as Brook’s mandatory challenger the IBF ordered Bizier vs Lawson, which Bizier won, making him the new mandatory challenger.
So, with Brook injured, the Chaves bout seemed dead in the water, and the IBF ordered Brook vs Bizier. Hearn insisted that the IBF were pushing the Bizier bout, telling Sky Sports “The IBF have ordered us to fight Bizier. We had an agreement to fight Chaves, but if the fight’s not for the IBF world title then the agreement is void”.
With Chaves out of the picture, Brook found himself with a clear and easy path to his ultimate goal, a super-fight with Amir Khan.
THE MARCH FIGHT
If we return to Hearn’s latest interview, you will recall that he suggested Al Haymon didn’t want Khan to fight in March, which is not entirely accurate according to Team Khan.
Just a few weeks ago BNTV sat with Team Khan who insisted they were trying tirelessly to find an opponent for a tune-up fight in March.
However, potential opponents either didn’t want to take the fight, were unavailable or the TV networks weren’t interested in them as opponents for Amir and subsequently scuppered the deals.
During our interviews with Team Khan, we were told that they had looked at many potential opponents for a tune-up fight, including; Ruslan Providnikov, David Avanesyan (WBA interim champion) and Mike Alvarado. Khan was even offered bouts with WBO super-welterweight champion Liam Smith and Bradley Skeete by Frank Warren but the financial packages offered weren’t significant enough, and the fights were turned down.
Late last week, we caught up with Team Khan again. We asked them if they were going to take the Brook fight, and we were told; “Yes, if the numbers add up”.
Unfortunately, the numbers didn’t add up, and that’s not entirely the fault of Amir Khan as some would have you believe.
Amir’s father and Manager, Shah Khan, said in an interview with Sky Sports Sky Sports yesterday that Eddie Hearn had failed to deliver.
“Eddie gave us, gave Amir the numbers, you know, and then he didn’t deliver them,” said, Shah. “He [Eddie Hearn] was in Liverpool with Amir. Amir was there at a fight with his Uncle, you know, Taz, and they talked about some numbers, they gave him numbers, and he [Hearn] just couldn’t deliver them numbers, and it didn’t happen”.
The fight Shah is referring to was Callum Smith vs. Rocky Fielding and indeed Khan was sat with Hearn on that night. Hearn even spoke about their meeting during another interview with iFLTV in which he admits that he discussed the Kell Brook fight with Khan that evening.
Khan himself told the Daily Star “I never said that 80-20 is what I want”.
“I was offered, by Eddie Hearn, £10m when I was in Liverpool at a fight. As soon as I said that’s what I want for the fight, everyone decided to turn against me and say ‘you’re overvaluing yourself’.
“But if you think about it, a fight at Wembley Stadium selling 90,000 tickets, even if you just did 60,000 tickets with the PPV I know it will make a lot more than that [£10m]”.
“I was just saying what I’m worth and what Eddie Hearn said to me. If they went back on their word, it is them [people should blame,] not me”.
THE MARCH OPPONENTS
The only other serious issue appears to have been that Brook had Bizier as a tune-up in March.
Khan needed that stay busy fight but was unable to get an opponent for March that his team, advisors and the TV networks would accept.
Khan has fought on the big stage for a number of years now, and networks like HBO want a return on their investment when fighters of Amir’s calibre step in the ring. In turn, matchmaking becomes all the more difficult.
In the end, unless Brook could delay his mandatory or Khan could find an opponent for March, the deal would be impossible to make.
Once again the blame for a breakdown in negotiations is being directed toward Khan. This, of course, is nothing new. Khan has been the scapegoat in this saga for a long time. Perhaps the blame for this public perception lies with Matchroom’s broadcasting partner, Sky.
Given that Brook is a Sky fighter, the broadcasting giants far-reaching coverage of the Khan vs Brook affair has been from fair and balanced but has helped shape public opinion.
Regardless of all that has occurred, everyone involved still agrees that Khan vs Brook is an option for the future. Let’s hope neither mandatories nor money come in the way of making this fight going forward.